Are you looking for a safe sleep alternative to a crib?
Whether you simply can’t get your baby to sleep in a regular crib, or you need something smaller than a standard crib, we can relate to your struggle.
Getting a baby to sleep well, can often consume parents. Fortunately, there are plenty of options these days for baby crib alternatives.
From the newborn stage to the toddler bed stage we are here to discuss the best crib alternatives and what they offer.
Keep reading to find the best option for your family.
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Safe Sleep Guidelines
The American Academy of Pediatrics has outlined safe sleep guidelines with the goal of reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Guidelines for creating a safe sleeping space for babies include the following:
- Babies should always sleep in their own bed (no bed sharing)
- Newborn babies should sleep in the parent’s room (but in their own baby bed) for at least the first six months of life
- After six months of age, babies can sleep in their own space in their own room
- Babies should be put on their backs to sleep. Once they can roll from tummy to back, then they are safe to sleep on their tummy.
- Babies should sleep on a firm mattress
- The crib mattresses should fit tightly in the baby’s bed
- Use a tight fitted sheet on the mattress
- There should be nothing else in the baby’s sleep space: no crib bumpers, loose blankets, or toys
- The baby’s bed should meet federal safety standards
Safe Crib Alternatives
Here are some of the safe alternatives to cribs.
Bassinets are small baby beds designed to be used for the first 4-6 months of life. They offer a small sleeping space with low side walls.
Bassinets are much cozier than large cribs, so they can make for an easier transition for a newborn adjusting to life outside of the womb.
There are so many bassinets on the market, that fortunately, you can find them at all price points. Some even offer additional functions like music sounds and rocking.
The word cradle conjures up old-fashioned images from sweet nursery rhymes.
These baby beds are similar to bassinets and typically on rockers. They are also designed to be used for the first 4-6 months of life.
You can place this baby bed next to your bed, and give it a gentle push to help rock your baby to sleep at night.
How about placing your baby down to sleep in a beautiful organic handmade basket.
These basket bassinets from Design Dua meet US safety standards for infant sleep. You can even buy a stand for it to create a bassinet or cradle.
Once your baby has outgrown the bassinet, the basket can serve as storage for toys or blankets.
If you are really struggling to get your baby to sleep, then a smart bassinet is an excellent choice.
Smart bassinets have sound detection capabilities and can begin to rock and soothe your baby when they wake and cry.
The SNOO bassinet is currently the top-of-the-line smart bassinet on the market. But the $1700 price tag is likely to give most new parents pause.
This miracle bassinet has a built-in swaddle system that rocks your baby to sleep. Parents can adjust the bassinet settings from the SNOO app on their phones.
I splurged on a SNOO for my 2nd born, but not my first. Let me tell you, it was a game changer in getting my daughter to sleep in her own sleep space. She was sleeping through the night by 3 months of age.
The SNOO is designed to be used for up to six months of age. Then you will need to transition from SNOO to crib.
If you are curious what all the hype is about, be sure to check out my full honest review of the SNOO – which includes actual video footage from the first time we put our daugther down in it.
Bedside co-sleepers are another good option.
These bedside bassinets are designed to be put right next to the parent’s bed. They usually have 3 walls, with no wall on the side attached to the bed, so you can easily access your baby.
It’s the closest to bed sharing while providing a safe sleep space for your baby.
This is a good option for breastfeeding moms who want to keep their baby close by for easy access to the breast during the night.
Have you ever heard of a mini crib?
A mini crib is exactly what it sounds like….a crib that’s smaller than a standard-sized crib.
Full-sized cribs have set mattress dimensions. Any crib that fits a mattress smaller than those dimensions is a mini crib.
That’s the main difference, which makes them great for smaller spaces.
Keep in mind that because mini crib sizes are not standardized, you want to be sure to carefully select the best mini crib mattress that will fit snugly in your mini crib.
Mini cribs come at different price points, with plenty of beautiful designs to choose from. With all the options out there, you just might have a hard time deciding on the best mini crib for your baby.
Travel cribs are highly portable cribs with soft sides. They are designed so your baby is essentially sleeping in an enclosed space on a mat on the floor.
Similar to a play yard, they offer a safe place to sleep and play.
Many have a side zipper panel to open up the sleep/play area. This lets your little one freely come in and out of his safe space. It’s also an easy way to put your baby down for a nap, so you don’t have to reach over the height of the frame.
Pack ‘n Play
Pack ‘n plays are also known as play yards. They offer a safe place for both sleep and play!
They are made of mesh sides and fold for travel. Many pack ‘n plays come with a built-in changing station and bassinet. Once your baby outgrows these areas, you can transition them to the main large area of the playard for sleep.
The pack-n-play is different from the travel crib in that it typically weighs more, does not travel as easily, and the sleep and play space is elevated off of the ground.
However since it folds up it is still highly portable.
Given all they offer pack ‘n plays, are a great option for anyone on a tight budget.
My daughter has now transitioned to her own crib in her own room. However, I personally keep a pack ‘n play downstairs as an extra safe sleep and play area. When my daughter was smaller it was our changing station and extra bassinet space.
Recently I was able to use the 4moms Breeze Plus Portable Playard while on vacation.
My husband loved how easy the fold was – making moving it from room to room a literal breeze.
It’s more expensive than most playards, but if money is not an issue I highly recommend looking into this.
Non-approved sleeping surfaces
Per United States safety standards and recommendations, the following options are not approved for safe sleep (for infants).
As a former co-sleeping mom, I 100% understand why some women choose to co-sleep.
In fact, there are many benefits to co-sleeping: your baby is close by making it easy to check on them during the night, your baby will stay warm from your body, and it promotes breastfeeding.
However, in the Unites States, bed sharing is not supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Aside from that, I personally couldn’t sleep well while co-sleeping. In my experience, getting my child to sleep in their own bed allowed me to get much more restful sleep.
If you choose to co-sleep, remember the safe sleep 7 to reduce the risk of SIDS:
1. You are a nonsmoker
2. There are no drugs or alcohol in your system
3. You breastfeed
4. You have a full-term healthy baby
5. You place the baby to sleep on its back
6. You dress your baby lightly to sleep and do not cover its head with the blanket (reduce risk of overheating)
7. Sleep on a firm flat surface – no couches or recliners
A baby lounger is designed to snuggle your baby during playtime.
While they are not technically approved for sleep, they are so soft and cozy that your little one is certain to drift off to sleep in it.
The Snuggle Me Organic lounger is one of my must-have baby items. I used it for both my babies and it’s still in great shape.
As newborns, my daughters had most of their daily naps in it while the grandmothers were watching and doting over them.
I tried using the Snuggle Me between me and my husband as we slept at night, to create a safe place for the baby. It didn’t work – it was just too big and took up to much space.
Since it’s not designed to be used as a co-sleeper, I certainly don’t recommend it for that.
Since the 1930s Finnish babies have been sleeping in cardboard boxes!
To date, all Finnish mothers are eligible to receive a cardboard box filled with clothes and other baby items. The box itself has a small mattress and is intended to serve as a safe sleep space for babies.
I think this is a wonderful idea and I wish our country would offer these too.
Unfortunately, due to a CPSC ruling that went into effect the summer of 2022, baby boxes and other bassinets without a stand are no longer permitted to be sold in the U.S. 🙁
Because of the gentle rocking they provide, many babies will drift off to sleep in their swing. However, swings are not approved for safe sleep.
Even the makers of the infamous MamaRoo swing agree: if your baby falls asleep in the swing, you should move them to their bed to sleep.
I remember when I was a first-time mom, moms everywhere swore by the Fisher Price Rock and Play. Many felt it worked miracles at getting their babies to sleep. Unfortunately, the popular rocker was recalled after several babies passed away in it.
This is a sad reminder that we should use baby swings and rockers only as they are intended.
Don’t you love the feeling of laying back in a hammock and rocking in the wind?
Baby’s seem to love the rocking of hammocks too. A market for baby hammocks has emerged, and some people feel they offer a more soothing womb-like environment than traditional cribs and bassinets.
Amby, an Australian company sells these dreamy baby hammocks. If you are interested in trying one of these, you will likely have to order it directly from the company, since baby hammocks don’t meet US safety standards.
A floor bed can be a simple mattress on the floor or a legless bed frame. It can provide an easy inexpensive solution to creating a dedicated sleep space for your child.
Floor beds are promoted by Montessori teachings and are felt to encourage childhood independence and self-confidence.
If you are thiniking of putting your newborn down to sleep in his own floor bed, keep in mind that getting down onto a floor bed may be difficult for postpartum moms – especially for those recovering from a c-section.
For those with babies that are older and mobile, you will want to be sure to fully baby-proof the room before transtioning them to a floor bed.
However, floor beds are a great option for older kids scared of falling out of a toddler bed.
For those who love the Montessori teaching style, this is a good way to incorporate it into your home.
If your child has exceeded the weight limit, or simply outgrown their crib, then it may be time to upgrade to a toddler bed.
Toddler beds are lower to the ground that regular beds, making them easy for kids to get in and out of. They also have railings on all sides to prevent falling out of the bed. However, they are not fully enclosed on all sides like a crib.
These are best suited for babies over 2 years old.
Alright we have gone over tons of sleep options. Did you decide where your baby will sleep?
As a mom I’ve tried co-sleeping, bassinets, loungers, swings, cribs and pack n’ plays. So while I haven’t tried them all, I have certainly have tried a few.
When you are shopping around, read through the reviews and consider your personal values. But, keep in mind that all kids are different and what works for one won’t work for all.
Best of luck…wishing you and your little one sweet dreams!
Where did your baby sleep? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.
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